The new boat galley took seven days to replace. As for the new boat galley price? It came to $6500.

PRACTICAL - DIY new galley

My 1981 Mariner 43 with twin eight-cylinder 12.5-litre Detroit marine engines is mechanically sound, as I have owned it seven years now. Just after its purchase, we did some minor alterations to the galley to make it more functional, but a further five years has elapsed till the job was made complete.

I love to cook afloat and the galley that came with the boat needed changing.
It had two fridges, one a 240V-only bar fridge (since sent to the struggling mother-in-law’s farm) and an Engel 24V fridge with boring grey front.
There was a massive convection microwave that took half the available bench space and
could cook for 20.

The 240V fridge was immediately replaced by a white fibreglass eutectic cool box in the cockpit and the microwave by a much smaller stainless steel convection model found on eBay for $80. It works perfectly (Ed: for now).


New galley

The galley I acquired still had the original Mariner teak carpentry painted in a red-tinted varnish, and the benchtop had been replaced with a dirty white-coloured laminate.
The grey plastic panel of the Engel fridge looked awful and the wooden edge-trim around the bench was made of cheap wood and had a fussy inelegant moulding. The flooring was dark brown linoleum with white stripes. Get the picture?

I needed a quick fix and in 2004 spent a small sum installing the new oven under the bench and investing in a small bench-top dishwasher that fitted perfectly below the sink.
The Engel fridge face was also replaced with a stainless steel sheet.

I preplanned for the 2011 makeover by installing glass splashbacks along some of the vertical surfaces, including an ingenious lift-up door that turned the free space behind into a voluminous cupboard. Given the tiny existing sink, the baby dishwasher was a godsend often running four times a day during peak holiday periods.

At the same time, we upgraded the soft furnishings in the cabins and installed new lighting.
The accommodation looked 100 per cent better and the galley worked pretty well, while I allowed my kitchen thought process to run wild. Overall, I must have spent two years planning the new galley.

My chosen shipwright, John Newport, is well-known in Sydney and had a great deal of experience in wooden boats, especially remodeling Halvorsens for a prominent Sydney boating identity (read Tony Mackay).

My wife and I had previously discussed what would make an ideal replacement galley. This included extra drawer space, more cupboards, a hidden rubbish bin, Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer dishwasher, a larger sink and to reposition the microwave.


Boat galley designs

Do we go with a traditional 1980s Mariner look (i.e. teak drawers and cupboards to match the existing woodwork in the cabins and saloon), or do we go something more radical?

We chose the radical solution!

It was excruciating to determine what the finish would be. In the end, I chose a silver-metallic gloss two-pack paint from AwlGrip. The paint was the equivalent of liquid gold, but the promise was a superb finish, and the bench top was to be a snow-white laminate.

A fixed price was agreed upon, an initial design given to me for approval and then the work began. Firstly, we had to remove the old galley, this took a day and revealed a massive space... it was so big you could have installed bunks here!

The shipwright measured his distances and worked out the overall space available. He built the cabinets in his workshop and brought them down to the boat. Everything fitted perfectly and it was fascinating to see how angles, templates, levels and mathematics all came together for a finished result.

Open bench-top cupboards would house the microwave, toaster, kettle and glasses, while teak trim and stainless steel retainers would keep these items in place.
Flush brushed-stainless steel finger pulls would open the drawers, cupboards and the integrated dishwisher. Everything seemed to work with the painted silver finish: the stainless steel sink, stainless steel fronted fridge, microwave and green splashbacks all looked made for each other.

The final touch was the flooring, now traditional teak and holly with a trapdoor giving access to the storage area below.


New galley price

To humour myself, I’d kept my wife in the dark that the boat galley project was starting, with the lame excuse I was having Detroit MTU do some remedial work on the engines (she must have wondered what remedial meant as I was not seen for about 10 days!).

Some other things went in my favour… the old cupboards and doors, dishwasher and other bits immediately sold on eBay.

The total makeover cost about $6500 including all the materials, appliances and labour.
Probably there were about seven full labour days involved. I consider this good value as the new galley is pretty much the equivalent of what you would find on any new cruiser.

If I were to do it again, I would not choose laminate bench tops. You do see joins, but this is minor. We had to put hidden restrains to stop the drawers flying open when the sea was rough and we installed an S-bend under the sink after my son clogged the drain with seashells.

And most importantly my wife was still in the dark until the moment she hopped aboard.
I still remember the shriek of delight when she saw my new work station!
My son was more perfunctory, wanting to know what was for lunch. For me it’s a matter of the food and the pleasure I get from my new culinary environment. Bon appetit!